We’ve been asked many times to explain the various awards which exist for hotels in Scotland.
To help guide the industry through the minefield we’ve put together this unbiased summary. It’s based on our detailed knowledge of how they all work but we’re open to corrections and constructive comments, and hope it’s helpful.
CATERING IN SCOTLAND (CIS) AWARDS
Well into their second decade. Run in association with caterer.com. Main sponsor is RBS. Covers catering and tourism as well as hospitality. No entry fee.
Entries should include a supporting statement of 150-250 words and up to 10 pages of documentation. Only shortlisted candidates are visited so the entry form is crucial. Nominations can be made during a six week window from early January. The presentation dinner is usually held in Glasgow towards the end of May.
The advisory panel includes leading hoteliers James Thomson and Stephen Carter, the Scottish Food Guide’s Wendy Barrie, Scottish Federation of Chefs’ President Kevin MacGillivray, and 2016 BBC Masterchef – The Professionals winner Gary Maclean. Top chef Andrew Fairlie has been closely associated with the CIS Awards since their inception.
Categories for 2017 included Business Innovation, Healthier Scotland, Pub Excellence, Banqueting and Events Chef, Patisserie Chef, Best Restaurant, Restaurant Newcomer, Chef of the Year, Young Chef (25 and under), Independent Hotel and Group Hotel.
Current Independent Hotel of the Year: Windlestraw, Walkerburn; Group Hotel – Greywalls, Gullane
PRESTIGE HOTEL AWARDS
New kid on the Scottish hotel awards block.
Organised by Shettleston, Glasgow-based Paramount Creative which also runs the Scottish Italian Awards, Entertainment and Hospitality Awards, Home Improvement Awards and Outdoor and Leisure Awards. Paramount started off as a print and design firm. Its founder and CEO, Warren Paul, launched the Scottish Entertainment Guide in 2001.
No fee to enter. Voting is by ‘the public’ in the first instance which means entrants have to encourage customers, friends, family etc to register support.
The 2018 event at the Doubletree by Hilton, Glasgow on 18 February will be the second of its kind. Last year the Awards dinner was at the Glasgow Hilton.
The organisers are reluctant to reveal judges’ identities but says they work from a common briefing
sheet to ensure marking consistency.
Title sponsor is Allied Irish Bank. The Herald and Evening Times group has been the media sponsor.
Last year the Awards were all about categories in a system similar to the new Scottish Hotel Awards (See below). This time 10 different judges are due to each anonymously visit 10 of the 100 venues gaining the highest number of votes, to determine ‘Scotland’s Top Hotel’.
The 2017 Independent Hotel of the Year was the Douglas Hotel, Arran. Country Hotel – Loch Lomond Arms, Luss; Golf Hotel – Trump Turnberry; Wedding Hotel – Boclair House, Glasgow; Boutique Hotel – Chester Hotel, Aberdeen.
Paramount also runs the Scottish Confetti Wedding Awards (confettiawards.co.uk) which has some categories of interest to hotels. These have no connection with the leading specialist Website confetti.co.uk.
SCOTTISH HOTEL OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Started in 2003 by Gary McLean-Quin who stepped down in 2015 after the Awards were sold to Norwich-based Paragraph Publishing, publisher of Scotland and Whisky magazines. He launched the Scottish Food Awards in 2017.
Candidates have to pay to be members of the Awards scheme. It’s based on nine regions which means hotels can grab lesser gongs as well as going through to the relevant final.
Fees vary with the number of rooms and currently range from £395 to £1,479 p.a. In theory this entitles members to two judging visits (Between May and November and January to March) and an expert assessment, plus discounted advertising – and, if you win, a framed certificate for the Reception desk.
Open to any hotel with three or more stars. Hotels do not need to complete an entry form.
Judges are rarely, if ever, publicly identified but include Paragraph staff, journalists/bloggers and current or former hotel managers. The Chair of Judges is travel writer Vivien Devlin who used to work with Gary on Hotelreviewscotland.
The next Awards presentation dinner is due to take place in Edinburgh on 29 April 2018 (Tickets £130 a head).
There are 32 hotel and 24 ‘People of Excellence’ categories – trimmed down from previous years when this was widely known as the Awards event with the most awards. People prizes are based largely on nominations from the hotels themselves.
Current Hotel of the Year: The Principal, George Street, Edinburgh
SCOTTISH THISTLE AWARDS
These have been going for two decades and are run by VisitScotland in association with the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards, Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, HIT Scotland, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Tourism Alliance, sportscotland and Wild Scotland.
They are based on five regional events with the winners progressing to the National Final. As one would expect, the focus is firmly on looking after tourists.
Categories include Most Hospitable Hotel, Most Hospitable B & B/Guest House, Best Informal Eating Experience,. Best Restaurant Experience and Best Pub/Bar.
No fee to enter. The entry form used to be an administrative nightmare but in recent years has been simplified to comprise just a few questions with tight word limits on responses. Entries for regional awards have to be submitted from mid March to end-June, with finalists announced in late September. The next national awards dinner will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 15 March 2018.
2017 winners included: Most Hospitable Hotel – Kinloch Lodge, Skye; Best Restaurant Experience – Gamba, Glasgow.
Expect to pay at least £100 for a ticket for any Awards dinner.